Ransom
by Julie Garwood, historical (1999)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 0-671-00336-4


Confession of a perverse romance reader: this is only the fifth Garwood novel I've read. I'm not even a Garwood die-hard fan. I loved Come The Spring, which everyone seems to loathe, for the same reason why everyone seems to like Ms Garwood's other books (and I can't): that book doesn't read like a Disney cartoon. Ransom is just what can result should Disney decides to make a highland romance.

Not that it's a bad thing. Ransom sings of idealistic chivalry and Utopian principles. Think of it as a King Arthur fable Disney-fied, i.e. all nasty unpleasant things like adultery, dirt, and taking pee-pee in the garderobes don't exist. Except where the bad - and ugly - guys are concerned.

The main romance concerns Gillian (never knew her family name or anything so don't ask) meeting handsome and upright laird Brodick Buchanan. Gillian has rescued kidnapped Alec for her wicked guardian (same illegitimate ass who murdered her family and caused her to be separated from her dear sister) and pretends to be Brodick's wife to gain access to the laird.

Brodick sees her and falls right away. How sweet. Gillian wants him to help her save her uncle, find her sister, and kick that fat ugly son of a female dog usurper out of her land.

There's also a secondary romance between Brigid and Ramsey, but I have no idea what that is all about as it seems to cater more for the delight of readers of related book The Secret. I haven't read the latter, so I don't know. What I do know is that Brigid and Ramsey can be dancing hippos for all the impact their too-brief relationship have on me.

So I'll just stick to Gillian and Brodick. How more chivalric can one be? Gillian is strong, she is Martyr, willingly letting herself be beaten black and blue and suffer the pains of a million death to save Alec. Commendable behavior, I'm sure, but the whole martyr-me-woe complex gets really tedious after a while. Why can't she stand up and kick back some butt for once, I won't know. But hey, why bother, eh? Brodick can save the day.

Brodick can save anybody and everything. He isn't a hero, he's Superhero. Strong, bold, passionate, brawny, braw, and let's not forget those bedroom skills, this man can shelter wee martyr Gillian from storms and the Evil World outside Utopia Scotland.

Adding to the Disney cartoon feel are the secondary characters that all speak alike and share the same thought bubble. Every best friend/clansman can practically complete each other's sentence, I kid you not. While it is heartwarming to see so many people in complete peace and harmony, things also get... well, boring after a while. There's no sense of risk or danger, because with so many good, happy, smiley people outnumbering the smelly, fat, rude bad guy, it's just a matter of time before the scumbag gets his just desserts.

And did I mention Alec, who must be one of the Olsen twins in disguise? He's so sweet I'm sure he pees sugar. One moment he is clutching at Gillian, "Don't leave me! I need you!" and next, he's going all Cute Sitcom moment, saying things like, "My father loves me. How about your father?"

And the bad guy, when looking into young Gillian's eyes in the prologue, sees right into the darkness of his soul and suddenly feel very ashamed of the Righteous Holiness that is the Good In Gillian.

A Hans Zimmer track wouldn't be out of place, really. I keep expecting Brodick's men to burst into song. Something like Hi ho, hi ho! Highland men are braw and strong! Highland women are pure and they endure!. Okay, maybe Tim Rice can do a better job than me.

Hence that's what Ransom is to me at the end of the day. Light, fluffy fun that more often than not cranks up the sugar level too high for this old granny's health. I have to worry about diabetes, you know.

Rating: 76


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